I interviewed Raghav on 27th June 2010 after the Boogie Woogie Canada Finals. It was an unscheduled, impromptu interview. An edited version was published in The Weekender on 16th July.
When Raghav crooned “Can’t Get Enough” on my television screen back in 2004, I got little goosebumps. At 18, I was infatuated with this handsome, sexy newcomer whose tiny smirk and lilting voice jolted my heartbeat every time I watched him on MTV. The world became smaller, and only he and I existed in my tiny living room.
Back in 2004.
Then he pretty much disappeared from my life. I moved on while he vanished into the melee of the many pop star faces of my teenage years.
Until the evening of 27th June 2010, when fate brought us together at the Boogie Woogie Canada Finals. While he assumed the role of one of the judges, I was a reporter covering the event (with a secret hope raging in my heart to sneak backstage later for an unscheduled interview). With mild anticipation tinting my adult eyes, I looked forward to the evening.
Not for long.
The rude awakening came when Raghav took to the mike and started to compliment the participants. His constant habit of falling back upon generic stock adjectives crushed my teenage image of this youth icon of yesteryear. This dream guy from my puppy love days emerged as a cocky full-of-himself wannabe with a limited vocabulary. Could it be true? Had he actually fallen from grace?
Not wanting to admit it to myself, I decided to head backstage after the show, just to watch him up-close and personal. With renewed hope in my heart, I chose to pursue my desire to grab an interview.
At first, it is difficult to get his attention, as the participants and their parents mob him. The many excited attendees who were eager to grab a pose with Raghav for their Facebook profiles and family albums obscure my tiny frame. I have to wait patiently for my turn. At one point, I yell out: “Raghav, I am from the media. Can I have an interview?” He glances at me, and imperiously replies, “Just a minute” and continues to ignore my presence for the attention of his many admirers, all the while reminding me of my inconsequential existence.
Finally, feeling slightly miffed, I walk up to him, hold out my recorder close to his face, and repeat my request. His eyes unreadable behind his dark sunglasses, he answers carelessly, “You have one minute.”
What follows next is a rapid fire round of a quiz show.
A household name in 2004, alongside Rishi Rich Project (made up of Rishi Rich, Juggy D and Jay Sean), Raghav maintains that Jay Sean is a household name now because he chose to do mainstream music unlike Raghav: “I make music in both Hindi and English so for me to chase is not to have a big record in any one territory. I wanna make music that I wanna make. And, Jay [Sean]’s done very well and he should be very proud of his success, and I am very proud of him as well, as that’s the kind of music I have always wanted to make. But I am always gonna go on making more obscure Hindi records because I am a different kinda artist”. Funny this coming from the guy whose newest single “So Much” (in collaboration with Kardinal Offishall) reeks enormously of mainstream music.
When asked about his plans of expansion as a comeback artist, he responds, “I would love to do a tour, but maybe in a couple of months. I think we still got to do some more tracks.” You mean some more mainstream tracks, as opposed to “obscure Hindi records”.
Giving his two cents of advice to new artists venturing into the big bad music industry world, Raghav says, “Make sure you do it because of the arts of the heart. Do it for the right reasons. If you are chasing fame and fortune, you will be very sadly disappointed. But if you love making music, then just follow it”. Sounds like Raghav is still following his dream of walking into the footsteps of Jay Sean, as I notice a tinge of regret when he answers that in 10 years, he sees himself as “Hopefully just happy”.
He ends with a brief “Thank you”, before heading off into the crowd of parents and children whose steady refrain of “Raghav, one photograph!” sounds hollowly all around me.
As I make my way to the exit, with my heart crushed with this newfound encounter with my past love affair, I find cold comfort in the knowledge that if I were to challenge him to a game of Scrabble, he would probably end up losing.